Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Arkansas


My mother took me off her bank

account and changed to her name

only and changed the benificary to

her sister. I did not know, three

months later I took her to get will

made and she never told me about

this, I think she forgot because she

told the attorney and everyone I

would get all her inheritience since I

am only child. She died one month

later at age 93. The two cousins that

took her to the bank said they would

testify that she did not know what

she was doing. The benificary got

$20,000 who is my cousin. Is

there anything I can do to contest

this i had power of attorney before

she died and all was left to me. I

really feel she did not understand

this. I tried talking to the cousin who

has the money and she will not even

split the money with me. An

attorney in the town told me that I

can not do anything. Is this true?

Asked on 6/30/09, 9:02 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Phunphilas Viravan Law Offices of Phunphilas Viravan

Re: benifactor

A bank account with a named beneficiary is not an asset that passes by a Will, but you should check the signature card and bank policy. If beneficiary predecease account holder (i.e., Aunt died before Mom), does the beneficiary designation specify if the gift lapses or goes to the estate of the beneficiary? If the gift is supposed to lapse, then it would pass by Will, and is supposed to be yours. In that situation, if bank paid someone else, bank is liable to you.

The power of attorney that you had will not help because your mother still has rights to manage her own assets.

As another alternative, you may have a case if the change was made because of undue influence, but you would have to have proof of this. Your mother was very elderly, and if she had dementia, Alzheimer, or other mental illness, you would have a better case. If your aunt (that was named beneficiary) was already dead when your mom changed the beneficiary to the aunt (I assume this since cousin got the money), then that could support that your mother did not know what she was doing.

However, procedurally, you would have to open probate and bring an 850 petition to reclaim the asset into the estate (i.e., sue the cousin). It's a lot of work, and the money will be eaten up by cost of litigation and attorney's fees.

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Answered on 7/01/09, 2:46 am
Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

Re: benifactor

Any 'contest' is done by filing with the Probate Court handling the estate. Whether you have a valid claim or right to contest for 'undue influence' or 'incompetence' would be determined after review of all the facts. The bank account should still be included in the estate for distribution, unless is was held as 'joint tenants'. If you're serious about consulting to find that out, and the case is in SoCal, feel free to contact me to arrange.

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Answered on 7/01/09, 3:55 pm

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